1951 Osca MT4
he early 1930s were a difficult time for world economics. The Great Depression strangled the life out of many prominent businesses. The onset of the Second World War would claim even more companies as production ceased in support of war efforts and several European factories were bombed during the war.
The Maserati brothers had created a prosperous business fueled by successful racing endeavors that made their marque legendary. Their luck changed during the 1930s and were forced to sell their factory in 1937 to Adolfo Orsi with one of the agreements of the contract stating that the brothers would work with the company for ten years. At the conclusion of the ten years, the brothers left to form a new company. Though the Maserati marque continued to thrive with help from the financial support of Orsi, the brothers a company of their own and the freedom it would bring. The new company they formed was called l'Officine Specialzate Costruzione Automobili Fratelli Maserati, or by its shortened name 'OSCA'.
When the brothers left the Maserati company, they also left the financial stability supplied by Orsi. With limited funds to construct a machine of the same caliber of their Maserati's, the brothers were forced to take a different approach and use more conventional methods of construction. The products they would produce were lightweight, reliable and small. They carried a sticker price well above what most individuals could afford. Their first model was the MT4, Maserati Tipo 4, constructed from tubular steel frame, clothed in aluminum, and powered by a four-cylinder engine. The front of the car was suspended in place by double wishbones and coil springs while the rear had a live axle and semi-elliptic leaf springs. Drum brakes could be found on a four corners. The engine drew its inspiration from the Maserati 6-cylinder unit, given single overhead camshafts, aluminum block and head, and mated to a four-speed manual gearbox. The first few MT4 models were powered by an engine that displaced 1090cc; subsequent examples had larger 1340cc, 1450cc and 1490cc units. The 1450cc unit was introduced in 1953 and the 1490cc twin-spark engine in 1954.
The MT4's were constructed as rolling chassis and were left to custom coachbuilders to create the bodies. As such, specifications varied greatly from vehicle to vehicle. The very first MT4 was given a cycle fender body and dubbed 'Siluro.' It was driven in its inaugural race by Franco Carnacchia at the 1948 Pescara Grand Prix. Luigi Villoresi drove it in its second outing where he emerged victorious beating the larger competition and claiming its first GP victory.
The victory at Napels in the hands of the very capable driver, Villoresi, did much to establish the OSCA marque and created a reputation that would help give the company the business they needed. Modifications and enhancements continued on the MT4 models. One of the first was to the engine, which received a larger displacement size bringing it to 1340cc. Near the beginning of 1950, the Maserati brothers introduced the MT4 2AD, which featured a new twin cam head. All but the first nine MT4 models created were outfitted with this improvement.
The OSCA MT4 models continued to rack up victories in Europe and the United States. In many cases they had little difficulties outpacing the other small displacement vehicles. In 1954 Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd drove a MT4 to a very impressive overall victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring, beating the rest of the field of which many had much larger and more powerful engines.
The next evolution of the MT4 was the TN, meaning Tipo Nuovo, which appeared in 1955. It was built on a revised chassis that measured 2200mm and powered by a 1491cc engine. The bodies were built in similar style to the MT4 and construction continued until 1957.
It was on the rare occasion that OSCA built a car over two liters. Many of their MT4 machines were designed for either Formula Libre (F2) or sports car racing. The cars were fast and dominated many of the classes in which they competed. They raced well in such grueling races as the Targa Florio, LeMans, and the Mille Miglia. Their superior power-to-weight ratio often allowed them to outpace and outlast other more powerful competition.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
Chassis Num: 1114
This OSCA MT4 was built by the factory in a more traditional spider-style. It had headlights with the oval grille so it could compete in the 1951 Mille Miglia, where it placed second in class driven by Franco Bordoni. For the rest of the season, with....[continue reading]